A soliloquy is an actor’s address to the audience, which reveals a characters feelings at that time, and also his innermost thoughts. They are used in Macbeth in many places, by Macbeth mainly, but also many other characters, when they are thinking something over in their minds, for example when Macbeth was pondering whether to kill Duncan or not.
The first soliloquy in Macbeth is in Act One Scene Three, and the witches have told Macbeth, that he already was Thane of Glamis, would soon be Thane of Cawdor, and soon after that would be King. Then after the witches left, Ross and Angus arrived, with news that Macbeth had been given the title the Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth then spoke a soliloquy, weighing up what had just happened in his mind, whether it was for good,Order now
“why do I yield to that suggestion, whose horrid image doth unfix my hair?”
“If ill, why hath it given me the earnest of success, commencing in a truth.”
He is thinking in his mind, that killing Duncan is wrong, and it is almost unrealistic to think of such a thing,
“whose murder yet is but fantastical,”
and that the witches have now planted thoughts into his mind. When he is talking in this soliloquy, he is happy and unhappy; happy that he is the Thane of Cawdor, but unhappy because he thinks he now has to kill Duncan, which he doesn’t want to do because it is against his morals, but he wants to be King, a war between his conscience, and his speech reflects this because he is talking as if in a daze, uncertain of what he should do.
This uncertainty continues in Scene 7 of Act 1, and by this time he has decided against killing Duncan, when he had decided to do it before. At this point his wife, Lady Macbeth, comes out of the banquet, and asks what is wrong, and he tells her that he doesn’t want to do it, but she tries to convince him to do it, by insulting his manliness. She convinces him to do it, but is dominating him, and he in the end agrees with her, like a rebellious child to his mother, and in the end he decides to kill Duncan,
“I am settled, and bend up each corporal agent to this terrible feat,”
and then later he goes and kills Duncan.
The differences between this and his soliloquy, is that in the soliloquy he is in charge of his mind, but he is unsure, whereas with his wife, he just does as she says, like in fact he was scared of her, and she was more important than him, so he just followed her orders.
Later that same night Act Two Scene One, Macbeth is ready to go and kill Duncan, and is just waiting for a bell, which would be a signal from Lady Macbeth that he could go and commit the murder, when he saw an apparition of a dagger. He thinks it is real and tries to clutch it but it isn’t there, and he wonders how this could be,
“I have thee not, and yet I see thee still,”
and he is unsure in his mind whether it is real or not, and his mind is in turmoil, because he doesn’t know whether it exists, and he thinks it is leading him to kill Duncan, so he thinks it is another sign telling him to go and commit the crime. The he hears the bell, and he leaves, to send Duncan to heaven or hell.
In Act Two Scene Three, Duncan’s body is found by Macduff, and in the ensuing conversation Macbeth keeps quiet, and is in thought, then he starts a speech about how he had to kill the guards, and that his love for Duncan made him do it,
“That had a heart to love, and in that heart courage to make’s love known.”
This shows how much he was regretting murdering Duncan, already, just minutes after he had committed the crime. During this conversation Macbeth wasn’t his usual self, and he was quiet and thoughtful, when everyone else was furious that their King had been killed.
During the whole of the play, there were other soliloquies, and in each one Macbeth was weighing up current events in his mind, and what he thought he should do next, and he was confident in himself. When he was talking to other people though it was a different side of Macbeth what was seen, for example when he was talking to his wife, he was timid, and when he was talking after the death was discovered, he was quiet, neither of these show qualities worthy of a King, and it is totally different to when he was talking to himself. I can infer this is because when he was talking to himself, it was the true Macbeth, but when he was talking to other people it was a put-on Macbeth, to please whoever was around him, when he was talking to his wife he let her get her own way, and when he was talking to everyone, he kept quiet and let them get on with their conversation, in case he let something slip, about him being the murderer.